The Temple of Muktinath in the Annapurna Mountains has been home of the ever –burning flame for centuries. This flame has continued to burn and is worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists. On the full moon of August, a major festival is held here. This is the Yartung Mela, or end of summer festival when the people officially say goodbye to summer.
This is a three day celebration here in the northern part of the beautiful Annapurna Mountains. The first day the local king takes charge of the activities, followed by the Buddhist monks on the second day and finally the local people on the final day.
The Thakali people hold the celebration, and there is plenty of singing, dancing, horse racing, games and other celebrations for this very festive occasion. Offerings from the recent harvests are made to Buddha by the Buddhist and receive a blessing from the village chief (king). It is celebrated each year on the full moon around the end of August or the first week of September.
This is a fun trek as you get experience incredible scenery along with local culture. There is plenty of activities going on during this festival. This is also a great trek for families. Children can ride a pony or be carried by a porter in a Baby Rucksack. The children will enjoy all of the festivities and there will be plenty of local children on hand.
Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition is pleased to be able to offer this fun and exciting festival family trek in the heart of the Himalayas.
DAY 1 – XX August, 2016 – Arrival in Kathmandu, transfer to your hotel.
DAY 2 – xx August, 2016 – Drive to Pokhara by 1st class bus: 7 – 8 hours
DAY 3 – xx August, 2016 – Fly to Jomsom (elev. 2710 m) and trek to Kagbeni (elev. 2800 m) 4 – 5 hours
DAY 4 – xx August, 2016 – Trek to Muktinath (elev. 3800 m) 5 – 6 hours
DAY 5 – xx August, 2016 – Yartung Mela and Muktinath
DAY 6 – xx August, 2016 – Trek to Jomsom (elev. 2710 m) 5 – 6 hours
DAY 7 – xx August, 2016 – Fly to Pokhara, ½ day sightseeing in city
DAY 8 – xx August, 2016 – Return to Kathmandu, departure dinner Travel 7 – 8 hours
DAY 9 – xx August, 2016 – Departure
DAY 1 – xx August, 2016 - Arrival: Arrive at Tribhuwan International Airport where you will be met by your representative of Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition. You will be escorted to your hotel where there are complimentary welcome drinks and a short briefing with plenty of time to relax from your flight.
DAY 2 – xx August, 2016 – Pokhara (elev. 820 m): Travel by first class a/c bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara. Overland travel is one of the best ways to experience and appreciate the incredible beauty of Nepal as you pass through canyons, see raging rivers and waterfalls. This time of year is especially pretty as everything is green from the monsoon rains. The rivers will be cresting at their peak levels and there are plenty of waterfalls that spring forth from the mountains. We will arrive in Pokhara mid-afternoon. We will check into a Three Star Hotel near Phewa Lake. Travel time is 6 – 7 hours.
DAY 3 – xx August, 2016 – Fly to Jomsom (elev. 2710 m), trek to Kagbeni (elev. 2800 m): It is an early morning flight to Jomsom, the principal village in the Annapurna Mountains. The flight is only 35 minutes, but passes by the snowcapped peaks. From Jomsom, we will trek to the village of Kagbeni where we will spend the night in a local lodge. Along the trek we will have an opportunity to visit the Bön-Po Monastery. This monastery is used by the followers of the ancient Bön religion, which predates Buddhism in this area. Trekking time is 4 – 5 hours.
DAY 4 – xx August, 2016 – Trek to Muktinath (elev. 3800 m): The trail ascends steeply upward for about two hours until we reach Kinghar Village. There will be a visit to Sakya Monastery which features a traditional healing centre. Here we will have lunch as well as a tour of the monastery. After lunch, we will trek to Muktinath. The temple features the ever burning sacred flame and is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. A visit here is said to release you from the ever constant cycle of death and rebirth. This is the second most holy place for Hindus in Nepal (the first is Pashupatinath in Kathmandu). There are 108 brass water spouts with water flowing from the temple. Below the temple is an ancient Buddhist monastery. From here are great views of Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri Himal snowcapped peaks. We will overnight in a local lodge. Trekking time is 5 – 6 hours.
DAY 5 – xx August, 2016 – Yartung Mela: Today is the main festival day, and there is plenty to see, do and enjoy. In the early morning, there are offerings to Jwala Mai, the Goddess of the Flame. The devotees offer gifts to Muktinath and light butter lamps to the Buddha. There is also for Brahmins and Chhetris the ritual of changing the sacred thread which every Brahmin and Chhetri male wears. It is a yellow cotton thread of a three-fold cord. . There will be horse racing and other activities, along with cultural dance. There will be many thousand of devotees who have made the pilgrimage to Muktinath for the annual Yartung Mela.
DAY 6 – xx August, 2016 – Trek to Jomsom (elev. 2710 m): It is the return trip to Jomsom in order to catch the morning flight for the next day. For part of the way is following the Kali Gandaki River until you arrive at Jomsom where you will spend the night in a local lodge. Trekking time is 5 – 6 hours.
DAY 7 – xx August, 2016 – Fly to Pokhara (elev. 820 m): It is an early morning flight to Pokhara where you will check into a Three Star Hotel. The day will be spent sightseeing in this beautiful lakeside city. There is plenty to see and do here. Go boating on Phewa Lake, visit interesting temples, climb up to the Buddhist Peace Pagoda for a magnificent view of the Annapurnas or visit Devi Falls. In August, the rushing waters create a rainbow over the falls as the waters then disappear into an underground river.
DAY 8 – xx August, 2016 – Return to Kathmandu: You will return by first class a/c bus to Kathmandu. Travel time is 6 - 7 hours. In the evening, check into your Three Star Hotel, and then enjoy a cultural dinner with traditional dancing and foods.
DAY 9 – xx August, 2016 – Departure: All good things must come to an end, and your trip to Nepal is no exception. Before leaving, why not talk to your representative at Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition about returning to Nepal for your next holiday. The vast majority of people make a return trip to Nepal because they are impressed by not only the beauty, but also the local people. Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition offers trips into neighboring Tibet, Bhutan and India. Be sure to discuss your interests and plans with them today.
Your safety is of paramount importance while traveling with Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition. Please note that your leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Every effort will be made to keep to the above itinerary. However, since this adventure entails travelling in remote mountain regions, we cannot guarantee that we will not be forced to make last minute changes due to weather conditions, health conditions or any member of the group, unexpected natural disasters, etc. The team leader will do everything possible to ensure that the trip runs according to plan. Be prepared for any last minute changes. The Himalayas are big and wild, and worthy of your respect.
THE TREKKING GROUP
For this trek there will be one team leader/guide. We also provide an assistant leader (1 assistant per six trekkers), and Sherpa porters for carrying luggage (usual compliment is one porter for two trekkers). This arrangement ensures that anybody in the group gets sick, the trip can still go ahead as planned. Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition can run this trek for any size group, but the maximum size is 12 people in order to make it a pleasant and enjoyable trip. However, if you would like to have a larger group, Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition can make the appropriate arrangements as well.
All accommodations for Yartung Mela Festival Lodge Trek to Muktinath are on twin sharing basis with inclusive trip costs and are chosen based on standard hygiene, standard of service and food, location and more. There are two styles of accommodations during the trip. We will spend two nights in 3-Star Hotels in Kathmandu and two nights in Pokhara. For the remaining four nights, we will stay at local tea houses or local lodges. Some of these places have shared toilets and washing facilities. Solo travelers may share a room with someone of the same sex, or if requested, we can arrange for a private room for an additional fee. However, please understand that in some remote places single rooms might not be feasible, even if the extra fee is paid. These are remote villages that we are dealing with. We at Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition will do all we can to make your trip as pleasant and enjoyable as possible.
During the trek, we can enjoy typical Nepali food, different ethnic cuisines as well as all types of international cuisine (Tibetan, Continental, Italian, Indian, etc.) from pizza and chips to apple pie. We can even enjoy hot chocolates, variety of breads, drinks and snacks. Breakfast will be served from the tea house or lodge menu where we spend our night. Lunch will be served on the way to our destination and usually along the trail. Dinner and breakfast will be served at the tea houses where we will spend the night. Note that at the tea houses and lodges, the food is good, although the menus will be limited. A farewell dinner with cultural show and breakfast will be served in our stay in Kathmandu as well as breakfast served in Pokhara.